POLITICS, LAWS AND BUDGETS
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The political system of a country plays a critical role with the affairs surrounding health. It is important to examine the relationship of how health problems affects policy making and how health professionals can participate in the legislative process. Not all health professionals know how policies, that influenced their practice, are made. Some of the decisions that affects healthcare professionals and their customers are made by the government or state or appointed politicians that have limited knowledge with health and who have various field of expertise resulting into some ineffective health policies. This results into increased pressure on health workers and agencies to participate in policy making. People working in the medical field have been long complaisant in just providing research results to the legislative body. However, health professionals must also play an active role in developing health policies.
Health Workers and Policy Making
The government’s treasury provides advice to the political leaders on the budget distribution for the different government sectors including health. These advice ranges from purchase and regulation of health services to health strategies and policies. In distributing the funds, it is vital to know which health policy should be prioritize for the benefit of the majority. The effectiveness of a health policy can be greatly influenced by staffing the legislative body with people possessing vast knowledge, skills and experience in the field of human health. In order to achieve an effective policy, health professionals must combined their scientific knowledge with actual work and strategies in policy making. This is a big responsibility for healthcare professionals as this means that they also have to developed more their skills and expertise in leadership role to be an effective policy maker. An article written by Roper (1992), states that the recently created Public Health Leadership Institute offered by Center for Disease Control in US, is designed to enhance the leadership skills of health officers to have a wide understanding on the emerging public health issues.
An example of a model for making health policies can be observed in China. Decentralisation of the national government gives the local government the power to make decisions on local affairs. This means that local government can make policies and adapt it to a higher level government. From the gathered information or data from local government the central government will have a basis for making a central policy.It also means that health sectors are involved in the policy making.
Areas of Advocacy For Health Workers
Advocacy is one of the most powerful tool for health workers to achieve their goals. By advocating, health workers influences the priorities and action of those people in the position or those who are in power. There are areas in which where health workers can be an advocate.
Health personnels should act rather than wait for a crisis to erupt. Health workers serves as the first line of defense in terms of protecting the health of the population. And because of this, they should take part in making a policy that will benefit all and something that would lasts. Kingdon (1992) coined the term “policy entrepreneurs” to describe public health professionals. In the workplace, one of the most important attributes of a health leader is having an excellent interpersonal skill. As a healthcare leader, they can coordinate all communication/issues between health workers and policy makers. Having a good flow of communication in the workplace will help the leader to decide what information should be provided to the policy maker. Organized communication ensures that the organization speaks in one voice and the legislation have a central point of contact inside the workplace.
Staff members within the company should have an understanding on the legislative process for them to know the implications of a proposal and it’s possible results in the future. An example of this is, chain of communication can also be observed inside a specific company. Those workers who belongs to the bottom level in the organisational chart are given the chance to be heard by voicing out their suggestions/concerns with regards to the existing policies and management. The gathered information from these workers, will be reported by the manager to the policy maker or those authorities concerns.
In the workplace, health workers may be ask to decide more in an operational way. This involves decision with regards to the daily operation of the organisation. A series of good operational decision can lead an organisation in achieving their long term goal.
Law (n.d.) defined government as the regulating, restraining, supervising or controlling body of society. They have the political power to exercised these rights upon the individual member of an organised society, for the good and welfare of the majority. The New Zealand government follows the Westminster model wherein it is composed of a constitutional monarchy, a sovereign parliament and the three vital branches of government. These three entities are Legislative, Executive and Judiciary. The most important duty of the legislative body is to make laws. They are the one responsible for assessing if bill can be turned into laws. The head of the executive branch is the President or the Prime Minister. The head of the executive approves and carry out the law passed by the legislative branch. The judiciary exercise the power to interpret and apply the law through the court system.
Health workers can impact the way policies are made from the local government to the national government. The role of health workers is vital in sustaining and achieving progress in health sector. To fully understand how health workers can influence policy making, let us take a look on what happen in Tanzania:
Cokelet (2009), detailed how a person became an advocate in decreasing the case of violence against women in Tanzania despite of the obstacles. The high rate of violence in this country is directly related to their culture which seems to view this practice as an acceptable issue. Kivulini of Women’s Rights Organization aimed in reducing gender-based violence by mobilising the community to change the norms and the policy in their society. Before starting her advocacy, she needed to have first an understanding about the obstacles addressing the issue of violence by consulting a study done by the World Health Organisation, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She used the result of the study to serves as a basis of collecting more specific and realistic information. They collect information from women about how well they know the available resources or the policies by the local government to help them with their situation. They found out that local leaders lack the knowledge, training and resources to help those abused women. By the result of the study Kivulini developed a model of training and care and now advocating this model with the Prime Minister of Tanzania and local government officials. Kivulini started the advocacy in the community/local government and their model also affects the national level. Tanzania increased the funds for the training and increasing resources to tackle the issue of violence.
Health workers must be involved in policy process that will affect them in personal and professional level. This involves having knowledge on the existing laws and regulations that regulates their profession.
Cokelet, E. (2009). Advocacy to Improve Global Health: Strategies and Stories from the Field. PATH p.2
Kingdon, J.W. (1992): Agendas, alternatives and public policy. Little Brown and Company, Boston.
Law,(n.d.):What is government? Retrieved from hhtp://thelawdictionary.org
Roper, W.L. (1992): Strengthening the public health system. Public Health Reports 107: 609-615.